A twirler leaps through the air.

Marching forward: Laker Marching Band season means some mainstays, fewer performances, same passion

As always, the Laker Marching Band is creating pregame and halftime shows, even without the structure of a football game and fewer opportunities to perform.

Still, in a season and semester and year of adjustments, and bouts of disrupted momentum for so many, John Martin, the band's director, said he is still experiencing the constants of any marching band season: passion and dedication.

A person points from the band tower.
Rehearsals for the Laker Marching Band was spirited.
Kendra Stanley-Mills
Members of the band study notes.
Band members take a moment to study.
Kendra Stanley-Mills

With football out of the picture, he said he has given all students the option of marching, taking the class through a hybrid model or waiting until next year, with the reminder that no matter their decision, they are still part of the Laker Marching Band.

Most chose to march, he said. "Students want to be part of something normal, to have that familiar blanket," Martin said.

The aerial view of the band rehearsing.
The view from above.
Image Credit: Amanda Pitts

Like others in music at Grand Valley, Martin and his team had to make adjustments for safety reasons. He led a shortened camp at the beginning of season. The outdoor rehearsals are reduced in time and broken into increments with breaks for the air to clear. Face coverings and bell covers are part of the routine now.

He also needed to figure out how to socially distance the performers. Four marching band steps means about 7-and-a-half feet — Martin said he even inclined his 6-foot frame on the ground to prove his point. 

Special safety protocols are part of this season

The band rehearses.
Band members rehearse with instruments using bell covers.
Kendra Stanley-Mills
A band member rehearses.
A band member practices precision.
Kendra Stanley-Mills

While there have been disruptions to the performance schedule, some upcoming shows are planned. Information is available on the GVSU Laker Marching Band website.

Through it all, he and his team have made it a point to keep the band connected both in person and virtually and to continue to stoke members' excitement for the season, modified as it is this year. 

Because in the end, they are still part of the Laker Marching Band.

Laker Marching Band
The pride continues for band members.
Image Credit: Kendra Stanley-Mills